How to Write the Villanova University Essays 2021-2022

 

Villanova is a private, Catholic university located roughly 30 minutes outside of Philadelphia. The university takes pride in the fact that it is the only Augustinian university in the United States, as all first year students are required to take a course called “The Augustine and Culture Seminar.” Villanova also has a tradition of athletic excellence, and won the NCAA March Madness tournament in 2016 and 2018.

 

Villanova’s student body consists of approximately 7,000 undergraduates and 4,000 graduate students. The acceptance rate is 29%, with the middle 50% of SAT scores for the Class of 2024 falling between 1380-1500, and ACT scores between 31-34. In 2020, the university was ranked #46 by US News.

 

Villanova requires two supplemental essays, one of which can be chosen from 5 possible options. Writing strong essays can certainly help your application stand out and improve your chances of acceptance. 

 

Read these Villanova essay examples to inspire your writing.

 

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Villanova University Supplemental Essay Prompts

All Applicants

 

Prompt 1: The Admission Committee would like to know why you want to call Villanova your new home and become part of our community? (recommended 250 words)

 

Prompt 2: Please select one of the five essay prompts listed below to fulfill the writing requirement. (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 1: St. Augustine states that well-being is “not concerned with myself alone, but with my neighbor’s good as well.”  How have you advocated for equity and justice in your communities? (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 2: What is the truest thing that you know? (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 3: One of the themes in St. Augustine’s book, Confessions, is the idea of redemption. Tell us your story of being given a second chance. (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 4: In the Villanova community, we believe that we all learn from one another. What is a lesson in life that you have learned that you would want to share with others? (recommended 250 words)

 

Option 5: Augustine’s “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Tell us about a societal issue that you believe the wonder of technology is well-poised to help solve. (recommended 250 words)

 

How to Approach the Villanova University Supplemental Essays

 

You should be thoughtful about which prompt you select here. You want to take advantage of the fact that Villanova is giving you some flexibility, particularly since all five options are fairly different from the standard supplemental prompts. 

 

First, read all of the options carefully, even if you think you are sure about which one you will choose. Second, note which one(s) stick out—for example, perhaps Option 3 reminds you of a meaningful reconciliation with a friend. If you immediately feel an emotional connection to one of the prompts, that can be a good sign that you’ll be able to write a strong response. 

 

Finally, think about how each prompt would add to your application as a whole, and make sure that the prompt you choose won’t lead to redundancies. For example, say you are drawn to Option 1, however, your Common App essay is about your advocacy work through your school’s Feminism Club, so you might be better off with one of the other options so you don’t repeat yourself. If you do still choose Option 1, make sure that you approach the topic from a new perspective, such as, for example, by describing your wide-reaching work in club social media management rather than your weekly volunteer work at the local women’s shelter.

 

 

Prompt 1

The Admission Committee would like to know why you want to call Villanova your new home and become part of our community? (recommended 250 words)

 

This is more or less your standard “Why This School?” essay. Here, you’ll simply have to explain not only why you would love to go to Villanova, but also why they should love to have you! In short, you are demonstrating fit.

 

For a typical essay of this type, we would usually recommend that you do plenty of research about the school, its traditions, and if known, your major within the school. Make a list of things that stand out to you as true, legitimate reasons to attend the school, as well as ways you can contribute. We recommend sticking with only a few talking points in this essay, as your space is limited and you may want to draw from personal experiences to explain how your past work will make you a great addition to the school. In short, how can you make this campus better? How can you stand out, and how can you fit in?

 

Keep your writing specific, concise, and highly personalized. Which traits, or combination of traits, make you a uniquely good fit for this school?

 

For more tips on this prompt archetype, check out our stellar essay examples, research tips, and video guide!

 

There is a bit of a difference between this essay and your typical “Why This School?” essay, however. They’ve implied an emphasis on community and a sense of home, so it will be helpful to explain why these themes are important to you. Explore them in your essay, perhaps by talking about groups you would like to start or join. Sports teams, student-led magazines, and theater productions are all great examples of places where you can express your collaborative nature. The focus shouldn’t be on the opportunity itself, but on how you will take advantage of it.

 

This personal connection is what will make your essay stand out, because Villanova receives over 20,000 applications per year. As a result, it’s very likely that someone else is writing about the same thing as you. That’s okay! The committee isn’t reading these essays to learn what opportunities their school offers—they’re reading them to learn about how you specifically will take advantage of these opportunities. If applicable, briefly describe teamwork and leadership experience and how you would now like to apply it to Villanova’s campus.

 

 

Prompt 2, Option 1

St. Augustine states that well-being is “not concerned with myself alone, but with my neighbor’s good as well.”  How have you advocated for equity and justice in your communities? (recommended 250 words)

 

It seems that Villanova greatly values community and group efforts. It’s important to do a little bit of research about the key values of the schools you’re applying to, which are often made evident by their application prompts, mottos, marketing messages, and even conversations with current students. 

 

In this essay, highlight your concern for fairness, community, and selflessness through concrete and specific details. When possible, reference specific organization names, people you have worked with, and raw numbers (i.e: number of people served, amount of money raised, total attendance of a charity event, etc.) Avoid vague generalities and consider starting off your essay with a lively, brief anecdote to bring your story to life. Here are some questions to consider as you brainstorm: 

 

Advocacy specifically refers to the act of speaking on the behalf of or in support of another person, place, or thing. How did you speak up? Whose voices have you amplified?

 

Which community service work have you done? Who did this work serve, and how did it help bring them closer to justice? Remember, your response doesn’t have to be directly related to the social, economic, racial or political justice of human beings; advocacy for animals and the environment counts as well!

 

Are you a part of a group that has historically suffered injustice? How have you advocated for yourself and your community?

 

Remember that a lot of people will write about the infographics they shared to their Instagram story during times of social crisis or Internet fights they had with prejudiced people. This is fine, but please add more specific and unique experiences to help yourself stand out! Did you write or speak to any local authorities, for example? Attend/organize a protest?

 

 

Prompt 2, Option 2

What is the truest thing that you know? (recommended 250 words)


This may sound more like a question for an upper-level philosophy class than a college essay, but there are a variety of approaches to this prompt, and you definitely don’t have to be Aristotle to write a great essay. If you have a set of core values that are deeply important to you, this prompt provides an opportunity for you to show that.

 

First, of course, you must identify the “truest thing that you know.” This is no small task, so if you choose this prompt make sure you give yourself enough time to brainstorm what you want to say and exactly how you want to say it. We have a few guiding questions that will hopefully help you with your brainstorming process.

 

1. What is important to you? This may seem just as broad as the prompt itself, but listing your values can be a good first step towards developing the more refined statement the prompt is asking for. Try to go beyond the obvious: pretty much everyone values their family and friends, so try to think of things that are more personal. Perhaps you have a passion for photography, or are proud of your sense of humor.

 

2. Which experiences have been most formative for you? This is also incredibly broad, but try to think of moments in your life that stick out as significant, and then go a step further and think about why they were significant. If you have a list of experiences you considered writing about for your Common App, look over that list again.

 

3. Who are your role models? By thinking about what you admire in others, you may realize something about what guides your own life. Again, try to think outside the box. You may admire how hard Beyoncé works on her music, but hard work is a universal value. If you shift your focus to how she uses her platform to raise awareness for issues that are important to her, you are more on track towards something unique to you.

 

4. What are some of your favorite quotes? Although we discourage you from directly quoting someone else, as you should express your truth in your own words, quotes that have impacted you may show you something about how you look at life.

 

Once you have a pretty clear sense of what your truth is, you want to figure out how to say it in a clear, concise way. 250 words isn’t very many, and the bulk of the essay should be focused on how you have learned your truth, not on stating the truth itself. 

 

If turning your ideas into a compact sentence or two sounds daunting, remember the purpose of this essay: to show your reader something about yourself. Nobody is going to get this tattooed, so focus less on sounding wise and more on communicating something you genuinely believe.

 

Here are a few examples of how to go about packaging your ideas:

 

1. Say you’re a photographer, and you value the patience and awareness of your surroundings that photography has taught you. Your truth could be something like “The world would be a better place if we all spent just five minutes a day appreciating the beauty around us.”

 

2. Say there are many people who have made an impact on your life, from your parents and teachers to the residents at the nursing home you volunteer at. You might say that “Nearly everyone you meet can tell you something about the world, so long as you’re open to listening.”

 

3. Say you love to drive, and have gone on a lot of road trips with your family and friends. You could tell your reader that “On the open road, I’ve realized just how big the world is, and how important it is to keep my life in perspective.”

 

Once you have identified your truth, the hard part is over. The rest of the essay should be about specific moments in your life that illustrate for your reader how you learned this truth, and why it is so meaningful to you. Hopefully, all the brainstorming you did will make this relatively easy.

 

Our hypothetical photographer, for example, could write about the time he spent an entire day trying to photograph a bald eagle in the mountains. Even though he didn’t end up even seeing one, he still remembers this day fondly because he got to spend it in a beautiful place.

 

Or our driver might describe a road trip she took with her dog. Partway through the trip, her dog chewed up her hotel bed sheets, and she had to pay to replace them. At first, she was furious with her dog, but by that night she had totally forgotten it even happened: she could only remember the towns she had visited, the food she had tried, and the people she had met.

 

We also want to address a few things not to do with this prompt, or at least to be very cautious about doing.

 

  1. Keep your audience in mind. It’s very hard to predict if humor will land with an admissions officer, who is a total stranger. Say your truth is “The movie Mean Girls taught me to push all of my problems in front of a bus.” Although your friends might find this joke very funny, your admissions officer may have been recently involved in a bad car accident, and you never want any of your essays to offend.

 

  1. Avoid political statements. As just mentioned, you have no idea who will be reading your essay, and if your truth espouses a particular policy, you run the risk that one of your readers will vehemently disagree.

 

  1. Be careful with unconventional approaches. Say your truth is that “LeBron James is the greatest athlete of all time.” This will certainly make your essay stand out, and you may be able to write a great response by describing how watching LeBron has taught you about hard work, leadership, and success. But if your essay ends up turning into an opinion piece about why LeBron is better than Michael Jordan, you should probably start over; this sort of topic focuses too much on other people, and the goal of college essays is to share more about yourself. The bottom line: only pursue unconventional approaches if you’re an extremely confident writer; don’t do it just to be edgy.

 

 

 

 

Prompt 2, Option 3 

One of the themes in St. Augustine’s book, Confessions, is the idea of redemption. Tell us your story of being given a second chance. (approx. 250 words)

 

Though this prompt is a little similar to your classic “Overcoming Challenges” essay, it’s still quite different from those you normally come across, so unless you immediately feel a connection to it, it will likely be the hardest to brainstorm for. On the other hand, it gives you a chance to write a genuinely unique essay that can take your application to the next level.

  

The most important thing is to pick a story that is genuinely about redemption. Remember, redemption is about paying back debt, being saved from true error and wrongdoing. For example, getting a B+ on one test and an A on the next is not redemption. The prompt is asking you to write about a genuine low point in your life, not a success disguised as a failure. Remember, the essays are your chance to be interesting and impressive, not necessarily perfect! If you’re having trouble being vulnerable because you’re worried about not looking good, remind yourself that you have the rest of your application to show off!

 

Here are some examples of true low points: being overconfident for a debate tournament and not preparing properly, losing your best friend’s trust, or getting rejected for a job you really wanted. Whatever you choose, you should tell your reader not only what happened, but also what you were feeling: disappointment, frustration, embarrassment, etc. At the same time, pick something you’re comfortable writing about. If your emotions about something are too raw, you probably won’t be able to write a strong essay about it.

 

Don’t overload your story with repetitive content about your failure or difficult emotions. Essays concerning difficult experiences should be primarily concerned with how you grew and bounced back. Therefore, the second half of your essay is where you show that this story is about redemption, not failure. Show your reader not only what you learned, but also what you did differently with your second chance.

 

Take the example of being overconfident for a debate tournament. Because of the opposing team’s poor reputation, you barely prepared, and fully expected to wing it and win the debate. However, your opponent ended up being incredibly skilled, and you stumbled all over your words. As a result of your loss, your team didn’t advance to regionals. While there was nothing you could do about that, you organized a tournament for all the teams that didn’t make it, so your team could still compete. You didn’t completely win over your teammates again, but you came back the next season and fully prepared for each tournament.

  

For another example, perhaps you did something that really upset your best friend. At first, you were angry at her, but after talking to your sister, you realized that you had to take accountability for your actions, so you baked her a cake as a peace offering.

 

This essay is a great chance to showcase your humility and willingness to take positive action. End your essay on a positive note to leave your audience interested and inspired.

 

Prompt 2, Option 4

In the Villanova community, we believe that we all learn from one another. What is a lesson in life that you have learned that you would want to share with others? (approx. 250 words)

This is a reflective and growth-oriented sort of essay that might require a bit of brainstorming. Here are some questions to consider as you do so:

 

Who have been the most influential people in your life (close or distant) and what have you learned from them? How did you learn from them? Observation? Direct advice?

 

Is there a specific mantra or motto you often repeat to yourself? Where did it come from, and how did it impact you?

 

Think about your most prevalent hobbies and community involvements. What have you learned from them? Which lessons do you apply to your involvement in these activities?

 

Think about your most transformative experiences. What were your main takeaways from these experiences? How do you apply them to your daily life?

 

Try to keep your lessons relatively specific to your life, or at least the experiences related to them. Ones like “Hard work pays off” and “Kindness is the way to go” are a little generic unless backed up with a unique storyline or application of said lesson. 

 

We recommend identifying your chosen lesson at the beginning or middle of the essay, rather than leaving it towards the end. That way, you can explore the impact this lesson has had on your work and life. 

 

 

Avoid getting preachy! Keep in mind that the people reading your essays have considerable experience over you, so avoid trying to sound as if you’ve achieved peak enlightenment already. 

 

 

 

Prompt 2, Option 5 

Augustine’s “Miracles are not contrary to nature but only contrary to what we know about nature.” Tell us about a societal issue that you believe the wonder of technology is well-poised to help solve. (approx. 250 words)

This essay is a great option for students with dual interests in technology and social issues. Premeds, biomedical engineering nerds, and social justice advocates are very well-suited for this prompt.

 

There are several approaches to this prompt, a couple of which we’ll cover here:

 

The first is to nerd out as much as the word count allows! Remember that although you may be speaking of advancements and issues that exist outside of your lived experience, you should still showcase your mind and personality within this piece. Whenever possible, tie your chosen topic into an area of your interest or experience. If you’re passionate about your chosen social issue or technological advancement, explain your personal connection to it.

 

This is a great place to showcase your intellectual vitality and showcase your knowledge of the fields of tech and social equality. Talk about current technological advancements regarding your chosen interest and where you see them heading next. If you plan on being involved in this incoming tech wave, feel free to explain how. Research? Development? Bonus points if you can explain how you would pursue these interests at Villanova. 

 

 

Where to Get Your Villanova Essays Edited for Free

Do you want feedback on your Villanova essays? After reading your essays over and over, it can be difficult to evaluate your writing objectively. That’s why we created our Peer Essay Review tool, where you can get a free review of your essay from another student. Since they don’t know you personally, they can be a more objective judge of whether your personality shines through, and whether you’ve fully answered the prompt.

 

You can also improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays. We highly recommend giving this tool a try! 

 

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Our college essay experts go through a rigorous selection process that evaluates their writing skills and knowledge of college admissions. We also train them on how to interpret prompts, facilitate the brainstorming process, and provide inspiration for great essays, with curriculum culled from our years of experience helping students write essays that work.

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